Melbourne Fringe Festival turns 40

Carol Saffer

The 2022 Melbourne Fringe Festival theme “it’s about time” is appropriate for an event that has 40 years of history to celebrate and three lost years to make up for due to COVID.

This year’s first-in-person Fringe Festival kicks off with an enormous free opening night 40th birthday party on October 6. The Festival itself runs through to Friday, October 23.

Southbank residents can look forward to two intriguing productions at the Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre Melbourne.

Future Proof, bought to you by Gravity Dolls, with their signature style of circus-theatre combining new writing with extreme physicality, will deliver a whimsical, macabre fever dream that creeps under your skin before spiralling into chaos.

While we may all be in the same boat, we are not rowing in the same direction. Buckle up; no one is getting out of this dumpster fire anytime soon.

Australia’s best jugglers, Byron Hutton, Richard Sullivan and Samuel Kreusle, rip through an explosive hour of entertainment in Escalate, where virtuosic juggling, innovative lighting and relentless energy collide.

Be enthralled as they shape juggling into a complex and choreographic language brimming with skill and bursting with dynamism.

Southbank3006 deputy president Jannine Pattison said, “Southbank Promenade comes alive when music, performers and entertainment hit the streets.”


“The Melbourne Fringe Festival, much like the Melbourne Comedy Festival, will breathe the life back into the city as well as Southbank, the arts and cultural precinct of Melbourne, as it draws people from all walks of life into our city.”


Melbourne Fringe creative director and CEO Simon Abrahams said the expanded program of new exhibitions, dynamic public art and brand-new art precincts made it the most ambitious festival.

“Through this festival, we’re writing a history of the future,” he said.

“We’ve centred free events as our birthday gift back to the city, including free participatory public artworks and, of course, the return of our iconic Fringe Parade.”

On Saturday, October 15, from 3pm, join or watch the parade of community groups, marching bands, trade unionists, dog walkers, drag queens, fashionistas and the public, march along Lygon St from Faraday St to Argyle Square.

The Square is the scene for a block party that will rock on until late, with two live stages featuring Fringe acts and live music, roving entertainers, and a reprisal of the famed Waiters’ Race that will keep the celebrations going.

With a long list of exhibitions and performances by extraordinary artists and organisations, there are more than 450 events planned for clubs, theatres, galleries, computer screens, parks, and bars of Melbourne.

The return of the Festival Hub at Trades Hall is greatly anticipated as well as the introduction of a Festival Park at Queen Victoria Market.

Deadly Fringe, Melbourne Fringe’s First Nations program, features brand-new works by senior and established First Nations artists exploring time, past, present, and future concepts.

Productions by LGBTQIA+ artists, including 290 trans and gender diverse artists, account for more than 51 per cent of the shows at the festival, while 238 deaf and disabled artists make up 13 per cent of festival events. •

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Image caption: photographer Alexis D Lea for both images.

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